Portrait of a Detribalized Leader – The Whistler Newspaper


The 56th birthday of Kashim Shettima, the former Governor of Borno State and Vice Presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) presents this opportunity to celebrate the life of an unrepentant democrat, a civil servant par excellence and a patriot passionate about our country’s place in the 21st century. Although it is a personal tribute, underscored by personal encounters, it honors a Nigerian who has continued to work for national cohesion and integration through his official and private capacities.

Our paths crossed a dozen years ago during a media tour organized by the Union of Nigerian Journalists (NUJ) under the leadership of Ndagene Aku of blessed memory. The tour was in conjunction with Red Carpet Protocol during Ali Modu Sherrif’s tenure as Governor of Borno State. Then, a fiery Kashim Shettima had left his lucrative position as Northeast Regional Director of Zenith Bank to serve his state as commissioner in the cabinet of Ali Modu Sherrif. During this visit, I would have the opportunity to deliver a vote of thanks, after which then-Commissioner Shettima would introduce himself to me and exchange pleasantries. From a senior government official, I considered his demeanor and approach rare, especially in this part of the world. I was touched by the simplicity of this politician and I respected his request that we stay in touch.

Now it has been said in various ways that the future is not predictable and there was nothing at the time to suggest that Shettima would later become a two-term state governor, senator and now running mate. of the APC. .

During my professional work and my interactions with public servants and politicians from various parts of the country, I have had the privilege of reporting on their attempts to stand out. But my association with Kashim Shettima has left an indelible mark, particularly with his efforts to harness the transformative capacity of our abundant human and natural resources to build a prosperous and inclusive society. His approach has further enriched my understanding of the intrinsic qualities of national integration in diversity. In him, I saw and experienced an exemplary personality of what we expect from a “detribalized citizen” of this great country.

In my sights, thinking back to the young Igbo boy, raised in the serene and bountiful Jos plateau, becoming a determined Nigerian, his belief in the promise of this multi-ethnic country and his preference for skill over tribe or overriding feelings designates him as a strong face of promise for Nigeria. Although we are of different faiths, it was he who sponsored my pilgrimage to Jerusalem. So, while I do not wish to shake the concerns of some about his emergence as Ahmed Tinubu’s running mate, I do however firmly believe that those who attribute him to an Islamization agenda are speaking from the standpoint of ignorance. . As a journalist, I would rely primarily on available evidence based on the actions of former Governor Shettima, who supports an ambition of love for humanity. Its global or national worldview as a necessity has always rejected clanism in all its ramifications.

While some may consider this a mere contribution, consider that during his tenure as Governor, Kashim Shettima had a retinue of helpers who weren’t from his state. For example, Isa Gusau, whom he introduced to me as his special adviser on communications and strategy, is from Zamfara State. Kester Ogualili, then Special Adviser on Community Relations, hails from Anambra State, Christopher Godwin Akaba from Delta State who served as Senior Special Adviser, Lanre Obadah from Kwara State was also Special Assistant ; Victor Izekor from Edo State worked as a special assistant among several others. To my knowledge, to this day, these gentlemen remain close to him.

Many may be unaware or have chosen to forget that at the height of the tensions caused by the departure notice given to the Igbos to leave the North by the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Kashim Shettima personally intervened and persuaded the Forum to withdraw this request. As an extension of this intervention, he traveled to all the states of the South East to reassure the governors and the population that there was no need to panic because the situation was under control. As governor, he has demonstrated that he is a unifier and a bridge builder. He handled interreligious and ethnic issues with the utmost caution, maturity, fairness and impartiality. He strongly opposed discrimination against Igbos, other ethnic groups and Christians in Borno State. In schools, he ensured that there were no discriminatory policies in tuition, levies and benefits against non-natives. His dedication to the war on terror in Borno State, where he stood up to Boko Haram, stands him in good stead. Her personal and total commitment to the war on terror, even in those anxious days when the forces of evil seemed to be making inroads, ensured that Borno remained intact and never fell under the control of Boko Haram.

As such, when recently Shettima adorned the traditional Igbo red cap with the full costumes, he was not playing politics or playing the gallery; he simply referred to himself as “Nigerian”. One who sincerely believes that for our country to flourish and live up to the dreams of our founding fathers, the interest of every part of the Nigerian federation must be taken into account in the decision-making processes of government.

Next year’s election will be important and consequential. It will determine whether our country will continue to advance or regress to our old, decadent habits that have almost plunged us into an irreparable abyss. Notwithstanding the dastardly campaign of reactionary opposition forces, I invite you to take a hard look at Kashim Shettima’s impeccable public service record and intentional service. In this season of heightened ethnic dominance, we must pursue democratic consolidation.

The famous American civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr., once said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.” Thus, it is instructive to note that Shettima has often chosen the path that promotes peace and good governance.

He is the Kashim Shettima whom I have had the privilege of knowing and coming to appreciate as a mentor. He is a leader with deep vision and enormous capacity; and above all, he loves this country and its people immeasurably. Congratulations to him on his 56th birthday.

– Nkwocha, media consultant and entrepreneur, is based in Abuja.

Disclaimer: This article is entirely the opinion of the author and does not represent the views of The Whistler.


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